Genesis Energy Theatre, Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre, Manakau, Auckland

18/05/2007 - 18/05/2007

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


The all new Festival Event hosted by the darling of NZ comedy Oscar Kightley brings some of NZ’s most talented Māori and Pacific Island comedians to the stage on May 18 for an evening of massive laughter and choice comedy in AotearoHA.

This is the first time ever that New Zealanders will have the chance to see one of the most unique showcases in the world. It’s never been done before!!!

Direct from the heart of Manukau City and filmed live for TV3 this slick fast-paced 2 hour showcase features over ten local comedians bustin’ out the very best in comedy styles for an evening that is certain to make you laugha laugha! This year’s stunning line-up includes Irene Pink, Ben Hurley and Josh Thompson plus more!
AotearoHA plays for one night only so don’t miss your chance to catch the live show that the rest of NZ will be raving about when it goes to air on national TV later in the year… if you’re real lucky you might even make it to the final cut.

AotearoHA plays

Date:  Fri 18 May, 8pm
Venue: Genesis Energy Theatre, Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre, 770 Great South Road, Manukau
Tickets: Adults $25, Conc. $20, Groups 10+ $20
Bookings: TicketDirect 0800 224 224
Show Duration: 2 hours

Oscar Kightly

Line-up includes Irene Pink, Ben Hurley, Josh Thompson, Alaric Arapai, Gish, Pauly Paul and the silent Catching Man, Andre King, Vela Manusaute, and The Electric KoKozoids

Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,

2 hours

Made-for-TV showcase of Pacifica humour

Review by Nik Smythe 20th May 2007

Many local South Aucklanders, some Westies, a few from the east and two from the North Shore, plus a few out of towners, congregate to the distinctive arena that is the Genesis Energy Theatre in Manukau, to witness over a dozen acts from the cream of Pacifican comedy talent. 

The event is being filmed for television, and for this reason is about half an hour late to start as the camera crew attempts to coax audiences up the back to move down and fill in the empty spaces in the middle, which they only do en masse after emcee Oscar Kightly comes out and explains the need for it.

But eventually the show begins and the first half goes smoothly, beginning with Kightly giving lessons on how to laugh in an animated fashion so as to be noticed by the cameras as they sweep the audience.  The consummate workaholic of New Zealand comedy, his laid back style has a warming effect on the expectant crowd.

First act on is local lad Ben Hurley, a snotty goatee-sporting smartass who is a thirty-second Ngati Porou and has his land entitlement in his pocket to show for it.  Hurley has a snide personality, bordering on dislikeable, but is redeemed by his genuinely funny thoughts and observations.  Following Ben, Matiaha Paku enters and kicks straight in with the self-deprecation (‘yeah, I’m Mâori, don’t worry I won’t steal anything!’).  He isn’t too bad but needs to develop his affinity with the stage and audience, and work at being natural and relaxed. 

Third act the charmer, eighteen year old Alaric Arapai , from ‘a small English town called Ponsonby’ shows his age in that he’s a tad green.  It’s mostly endearing though; he has strong material and his potential shines through. It’s not hard to believe he will go far.

Next up Irene Pink, the only female act of the evening.  Oft times we reviewers are heard to despair of women in comedy going on about sex and men and body image et al, as it so often seems self-conscious and almost apologetic.  Such material is the bread and butter of large, sassy, cynical Pink, but it works – the girl is hilarious, proving it’s much more about the delivery than the content.  It’s the kind of act you’d rather not follow, but someone has to… Generic formula wielding Bundy drew the short straw and his unsurprising blokeish racial humour doesn’t get a great deal of traction. 

Last act for the first half, Gish (‘short for Biggish’) mooches in like a tall skinny grown-up Jeff da Mâori and has the audience cracking up at his total hard caseness within moments.  His adept guitaring augments his classic hilarious bro-style anecdotes and while the full length of his Hotel California parody seemed unnecessary to me, Gish remains a highlight of the evening.

At half-time the fifteen minute break takes thirty, but that’s the audience’s fault.  Auckland audiences are terrible at autonomous self-discipline – we’re told fifteen minutes, but half those folks would’ve stayed outside for hours if no-one told them it was time to go back in. 

Oscar re-warms up the crowd riffing on the topical issue of police activities (a current favourite subject throughout the comedy festival) before introducing Figjam, who runs a fairly safe line of gags on the topical issues of Mâori – particularly land ownership and funding.  Fairly standard fodder, but he raises more than a chuckle in the crowd.  Then it’s "New Zealand’s second favourite Westie" Nathan Matthews, another jaded-before-his-time youngster who delivers an adequate punch with standard material, again showing promise for a successful future.

The two-strong Central City Circus are the most different kind of act of the night.  Pauly Paul and the silent Catching Man have a youthful energy as they deliver some standard juggling and balancing tricks.  Paul’s tendency to laugh self-consciously at everything he says is off-putting and ultimately their gig loses a little translation between the street and the glamorous televised big stage.

After that Andre King slopes in to deliver some laid back yet somehow in-your-face attitude about horny cops and being an educated Mâori.  He’s got his audience where he wants them, and his ribbing of the Indian culture receives possibly the biggest laugh of the night.  In contrast, Vela Manusaute would be the most controversial performance of the night,  his ‘anti-anti-smacking’ philosophy being aggressively demonstrated.  He has timing and charisma, but his material seems painfully restricted to the shock value of the violent nature of Pacific Island culture.  He makes me feel like a PC liberal.

The final comedy act is a six-piece called The Electric KoKozoids, who lip synch their crazed outcast-vigilante-gang-mentors-boy-in-love-with-girl high concept adventure with pluck and verve. Utilising the A-Team theme and some well chosen musical bits, the Kokozoids are big fun, albeit in a high school talent quest kind of way.

The Kokozoids segue into a rousing finale featuring a bright R&B sunshiny musical number by the forty odd choral voices of the Masque Vocal Ensemble and featuring energetic rapping, toasting, breaking and the like from those young West Auckland hip-hop heartthrobs Spacifix, partying it up on what will undoubtedly be the closing credits.

Overall AotearoHa proves to be a solid night in which even the weakest links have something going for them.  Look out for it on your small screen in the near future – TV3 I think – and please feel free to add your own thoughts at the end of this page.


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